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Tag Archives: Why This Book Is Different

How GOLDEN BOY is Decidedly Different

 

I wrote a post back in November telling you how GOLDEN BOY is similar to some other books out there. Well, the follow-up question, naturally, is: How is GOLDEN BOY different from other books out there? Turns out that’s an easy question to answer. I know this because I tried my darndest to find this story out in the world before I wrote GOLDEN BOY, and failed.

When I first came across the report of the killing of people with albinism in East Africa I was distraught, and immediately looked for three things:

  1. objective news sources to learn more about the tragedy;
  2. novels written about the topic to help me process the emotions, and;
  3. humanitarian organizations working in the field to help do something about it.

I found the last immediately and, with some digging through international presses, found the first. But for the life of me I couldn’t find the second.

P1100607I found moving books of the difficulties of being a child in Africa, such as Ishmael Beah’s memoir, Long Way Gone; Memoirs of a boy soldier. These books told the story of normal kids fighting extraordinary circumstances, but didn’t address the unique challenges of people with albinism. I had no better luck searching in the other direction, finding only two novels published for middle grade readers that had a person with albinism as the main character. Here, I found stories of  exceptional children fighting to claim ordinary circumstances, but the approach of these books bothered me: in both novels, the crux of the plot centered around the albino character joining a circus. I was aghast.

Two years later, when I was interviewing the staff at Under the Same Sun, a non-profit organization working to help those with albinism in Tanzania, I found I was not alone in this feeling. The people I interviewed there pointed out that “every single time an albino is in the media, they are the freak or the bad guy.”

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So there you have it: GOLDEN BOY tells the story of Habo, an albino who is neither a freak nor a bad guy, but rather someone decidedly different struggling to claim his humanity in an inhuman world. It tells the story of a current human rights tragedy of which the world is largely unaware and on which there are no other books (and woefully few news articles) written.

To be honest, had there been any similar stories out there I don’t know that I would have been able to finish this book. The untold tragedy of people with albinism in Africa pulled me through the rough patches of writing and gave me the courage to travel to Tanzania to fact-check. The unsung heroism of the people currently working in the field drove me though the long, intense season of revision. There were times that I thought I wouldn’t be able to write this book, but the story had to be told.

And I hope it’s not too big of a spoiler to tell you that, at no point in the entire book, does Habo ever consider joining a circus.

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GOLDEN BOY debuts June 27th, 2013. 
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Sharks, Squid and Dolphins, Oh My! Why THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is Literally a Sea Apart

How is THE NEPTUNE PROJECT different from other children’s books? That’s easy to answer. TNP has a very unique setting. Few books for kids take place almost entirely in the sea. Every Sunday night my generation got to watch Jacques Cousteau explore the oceans of the world, but I think this generation of young readers knows very little about the oceans that cover 73% of our planet.

Because I’m an avid scuba diver, I can describe what it’s like beneath the waves. It is a fascinating world, full of beautiful creatures like billowing white cloud sponges, delicate brittle stars and brilliantly-colored corals, and odd ones like plump orange sea cucumbers and funny round pufferfish. Far from silent, the oceans depths are filled with the sound of shrimp crackling, dolphins squeaking and sand whispering.

Marie, one of my young beta readers, said wonderingly, “I had no idea all that cool stuff was down there.” There are all kinds of cool stuff down there, and if you read THE NEPTUNE PROJECT, you’ll get to see that amazing and sometimes dangerous world through my heroine’s eyes.

Oh, yeah, and here’s one more thing TNP has that sets it apart: telepathic dolphins. They are important and colorful characters in the story, too!

45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS): More Story, Less Issue

At first glance, my YA contemporary novel 45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS) sounds like a typical weight loss issue novel. Girl feels fat. Girl goes on diet. Girl loses weight (more or less). Girl is empowered. While some of that is true, this story is much more.

  1. My main character, Ann, is not an outcast. She is overweight and always has been, but her struggle is more typical to what average girls experience every day. Her self-conscious, self-deprecating internal dialogue is humorous, yet real. Anyone who’s ever felt fat and inadequate trying on swimsuits or formal dresses will relate.
  2. This is not an ugly-duckling-turns-beautiful-and-gets-a-boyfriend story. This is a girl-discovers-herself journey (even though I find the word journey kind of trite) and has endlessly embarrassing and awkward encounters with a cute, yet imperfect, guy.
  3. The story’s not just about Ann’s weight. It’s also about family and secrets and acceptance. It’s about friendship and fitting in and fending off bitches. And it’s about romance, too.
  4. Ann is not the only character with issues. Her grandmother unapologetically chain smokes and endearingly (and sometimes not so endearingly) calls everyone fat ass, and her step-grandmother Regina gives new meaning to the word intolerable. Don’t even get me started on Ann’s parents! Pretty much the only characters who have it remotely together are Aunt Jackie and her fiancé Chris—that’s Christine, not Christopher. Yes, there’s a lot going on here.
  5. There are also nacho cheese pretzels and deep dish pizza and M&Ms and Mondo Burgers and chicken parm with extra breadsticks, all of which is much more appetizing than the Belly Buster Bars and diet lasagna.

So while the weight issue has been covered before, Ann Galardi’s story is unique. Yet, also familiar, because it’s about imperfect people all trying to figure out where they fit.

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The Fingerprint of ALL OUR YESTERDAYS

Three reasons why ALL OUR YESTERDAYS is different from anything else you’ve read, in picture form.

 

1. There are six prominent characters, but they’re made up of only three people.

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2. The main character was inspired by equal parts killer robot from the future and privileged girl who pretends to be mean so long she actually becomes mean.

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3. The story was developed using a top-secret plotting formula revealed here for the first time.

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Marina has everything. She’s got money, popularity, and a bright future. Plus, she’s best friends with the boy next door, who happens to be a gorgeous prodigy from one of America’s most famous families.

Em has nothing. Imprisoned in a small white cell in the heart of a secret military base, all she has is the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

But Marina and Em have one big thing in common: they’re the same person.

Now Em must travel back four years in time in order to avert the terrible future from which she’s fled, and there’s only one way to do it. She must kill the person who invented the time machine in the first place: someone from her past. A person she loved.

But Marina won’t let them go without a fight.

How IN THE AFTER is different…in a good way

In the After

Sure, there are a lot of creature books out there, from aliens to zombies to vampires (ummm…I’m talking about the non-sparkly kind) …but IN THE AFTER takes these norms and flips them. These creatures (referred to as They) are ravenous, flesh-eating monsters, but they have poor eyesight, making them more active during the day when it’s light out. They also hunt by sound. This means that my MC, Amy, lives in a world of silent darkness. She only goes out at night, making the usual world of frightening shadows her comfort zone. The day becomes a time of terror, when They own the world.

Another difference in IN THE AFTER is its focus on the relationship between Amy and a child she finds in the After. Called Baby, this child becomes Amy’s reason to survive, not only the After, but all that she must face as the story unfolds. While a lot of YA spotlights romantic relationships, I wanted to focus on Amy and Baby’s sisterly bond and the connection two people would form trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

IN THE AFTER will be available June 25th from HarperTeen
Pre-order at B&N or Amazon
Add on Goodreads

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GONE FISHING: A Novel in Verse – An Unconventional Crossroad of Children’s Literature

This past October I wrote a post comparing titles to GONE FISHING. It turned out to be a more challenging assignment than I had expected – I couldn’t find a book that was a direct match. I finally settled on four books that I could compare to different aspects of my book. The reason I couldn’t find one exact comparison: it turns out that a humorous fishing adventure sibling rivalry middle grade novel in verse for children ages six and up that includes poetry info isn’t all that common. I’d have to say it’s downright unusual.

I didn’t write GONE FISHING with the goal of being different. It began as a single poem called “Night Crawlers,” based on my good childhood memories. That one poem was soon joined by other poems about a father and son fishing. Poems that included a little sister surfaced. A story started to develop. The poetry began to take shape both literally and figuratively. A wise friend suggested naming those poems. My editor liked the named poem aspect and encouraged me to expand the story and poetry further and add poetry definitions. The final shape of GONE FISHING began to emerge and included these elements of poetry, story, and poetry writing tips.

As serendipity would have it, GONE FISHING lives at the whimsical, unconventional crossroad of Middle Grade Fiction, Middle Grade Novels in Verse, and The Study of Poetry for Any Age. I honestly don’t know of another book that resides at this specific intersection. Do you? If you feel like hanging out at this unique literary spot, come March 5, wander over to GONE FISHING for a read. The kids are on a fine adventure with Dad, the fish and the poetry are lively, and you don’t have to study a thing about poetry if you don’t want to. (Although, you may just want to!)

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GONE FISHING: A Novel In Verse, by Tamera Will Wissinger, illustrated by Matthew Cordell, arrives March 5 from Houghton Mifflin Books for Children and is now available for preorder. A graduate of Hamline University’s MFA Writing for Children program, Tamera and her husband share their time between Chicago and Florida. Online you can find Tamera on her Website, Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook.

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